Xiqing Gao, president of China's sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp, has retired, a source with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed to Private Equity International.
Gao, whose retirement was expected, was previously vice chairman of the China Securities and Regulatory Commission – the government body in China under which private equity regulations now fall – and has been known to advocate a more liberal capital market, local media said.
Stepping into his position will be Li Keping, current vice president and chief investment officer of CIC, according to PEI’s source.
Li joined CIC as chief investment officer in 2011 from his position at China’s Social Security Fund (SSF) to replace Gao, after his promotion to president, PEI reported earlier. Gao had also served as vice chairman of SSF prior to CIC.
Although expected, Gao’s departure follows a period of reshuffling at CIC’s top management level.
In May, the Chinese SWF appointed Xiaopeng Li as head of the board of supervisors, while the position of chairman remained open. In July, after months of speculation as to who would head the firm, CIC selected Xuedong Ding to fill the role of chairman and chief executive officer, PEI reported earlier.
“While Gao’s retirement was expected and long rumored – he is now 60 years-old – his departure will inevitably raise questions over other possible changes at CIC, including investment direction and reliance on external managers,” a statement from analyst Z-Ben Advisors said.
“Adding on the recent appointment of Xuedong Ding as CIC chairman in July 2013, a significant transition within the management team looks to be underway at CIC.”
Nevertheless, CIC has continued to back the private equity industry and owed a spike in returns during 2012 to a boost in its alternative assets platform, according to its 2013 annual report.
A tough fundraising environment for private equity globally has created a better investment environment for private equity, Linbo He, managing director and head of private equity investment at CIC, said at an industry conference last year, PEI reported from the event.
“If past history has taught us something about the future, [it is that] we should have more confidence in investing in private equity right now.”